Fireball over US was Russian spacecraft falling back to Earth
Spacecraft came down around the peak of the Orionids Meteor Shower but NASA says the two are unrelated.
A brilliant streak of light crashed across the sky Wednesday night over parts of the Midwest, causing some to believe they were witnessing a spectacular show from the Orionids Meteor Shower, but it turns out the fireball was manufactured.
NASA's Meteor Watch office later confirmed the bright light was not part of the meteor shower peaking this week but was a debunked spacecraft re-entering Earth's atmosphere.
"There are many accounts from the midwestern states of a bright, long-lasting fireball seen around 12:43 am EDT last evening, NASA wrote Wednesday. "This event was not caused by a natural object; it was produced by the reentry and fragmentation of a satellite over that area of the country."
Spacecraft have identifications and are tracked by several U.S.-based and international groups. Astronomer Jonathan McDowell, with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, wrote on Twitter the satellite was Kosmos-2551.
The Earth-observing satellite launched in September from Russia on a military operation but later failed in orbit.
According to the American Meteor Society, the group received more than 153 reports of the fireball over nine states, including Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky, and several sightings from Ontario, Canada.
The video above from Pete Mumbower shows the fiery display over southern Michigan captured on an all-sky meteor camera.